Spending the Day with Fix

Johannesburg Travel Blog

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At the Hector Pieterson Museum

So today was a great day! First of all, I have laughed so much with Connie. She cracks me up.

So I got up early and had a delicious breakfast. They had a huge display of all kinds of fruits here for breakfast. All the fruits were so sweet and juicy. They had mango and guava juice. I haven’t had either of those I think since I was in Colombia a few years ago.

Then I came up to the room to wait for Connie. Connie got here around 11 am and caught me up on her airport/cab adventures. She basically experienced the same brusqueness with the cab drivers at the airport, where they were throwing themselves at her and following her. She had some cabbie trying to take her suitcase.

Squatter camps (which I incorrectly refer to as Quarter camps)
I had visions of Connie running behind a cabbie stealing her suitcase. I told her I had to finally tell my one cab driver I didn’t plan on taking a cab, in order to get him to leave me alone when I got here.

Anyway, she wound up taking a shuttle for 215 RANDs. She tipped him 5 RANDs. The exchange rate is 1 dollar to 7.7 RANDs. Let me tell you something…. That has been the joke of the day. We have laughed so much at her tip. She came over and was asking me to look up what our tour book suggested for tipping. I showed here where it said 10%.

So fast forward to later in the day.  We went downstairs to get a cab to take us to the Apartheid Museum. So the cab driver gave us a fee he would charge us.

Squatter camps near Orlando Stadium
We agreed on 250 RANDs up and then he’d come get us after a few hours for 250 RANDs back to the hotel. We got in the cab for the 30 minute drive to the Apartheid Museum only to find out the museum was closed. So the cab driver apologized for forgetting the museum was closed on Monday and informed us he could take us to the Soweto Township and to the Hector Pieterson Museum which he indicated was not far at all. So he started heading in that direction and then nonchalantly told us the cab fee would go up by 100 RANDs each way. So Connie and I were like…. “Wait a second. Let us discuss and decide before you go heading elsewhere.” So he decided he would take us there anyway, at the same fee cause he wanted to show us more of Johannesburg, and he felt bad because he had forgotten the Apartheid Museum was closed.

Our cab driver pointed out famous or significant landmarks as we were driving. He was so neat! He talked us through the entire ride up and back. Connie and I started asking him personal questions about how he lived, who he lived with, his children, his salary and income and people’s living conditions in Johannesburg. We learned so much. Fix (that was our cabbie’s name, short for Fikile, which means “arrive”) taught us so much. It was so educational. He drove us around Soweto and told us about the shacks or informal housing. He waited for us outside the Hector Pieterson Museum a while and then drove us back through town.

Fix (who says he is known for fixing stuff) fixed our problem by becoming our tour guide that day. He spent the afternoon laughing with us, talking to us and letting us drill him as much as we wanted.

Orlando Stadium
At one point, I told him to feel free to tell us when we were being nosy.

He told us that for his 1998 Mercedes Benz cab, one could pay something like 70,000 RANDs. He said a liter of milk here costs about 10R. He has a girlfriend with whom he has a child, but he does not live with her. He still lives at home with his mom, dad, sister and two brothers. He said when his girlfriend’s parents found out she was pregnant, they went to talk to his parents. He had to admit the child was his. If he wanted to allow her to move in with him in his parents’ home, he would have to pay a Lobola. This is a payment he has to give to his parents for allowing his girlfriend to move in with them, but he has decided not to do that yet, since he is trying to go back to school for tourism. Fix told us the average cost of college tuition is approximately 20,000 R though it depends on the course of study.

Connie in front of Nelson Mandela's childhood home
He told us the cost for the tourism certification he is trying to pursue is about 10,000 R for a 3 month session. The average wage per month is about 6,000 R, which averages out to about 800 US dollars a month. He said many people in South Africa do not have health insurance as it is too expensive. Many people go to the public hospitals when necessary since they are cheaper. The private hospitals provide better care and service. Fix also informed us that the standard tip was 10%. He told us as a cab driver, he only makes 10% of what he charges us, then whatever we tip him. We told him that Connie tipped her shuttle driver 5 RANDs this morning. He was cracking up. He found this so amusing. We have laughed so much about this. I guess you had to be there. He asked her what her cab fare was. She told him it was 215 R, which is about 28 US dollars. And then she told him she tipped him 5 R, which is about 65 cents.
Nelson Mandela's childhood home - one of the guides later told us that it was disappointing that they've remodeled the original home as it's not truly reflective of where he lived
He looked at us, laughing and stated, “You didn’t even tip him enough for a loaf of bread”. Then Connie asked him if he was going to kick us out of his cab. He laughed and said no. I told him I would help her with her tipping.

So after our cab adventure, we made a deal with him to pick us up on Wednesday at 5:15 am to take us to the airport for our Cape Town flight. Then he’s going to pick us up on Saturday at the airport to take us to the Apartheid Museum and to the flea market before we head back home or onward to Dubai. We must have tipped better this time, for him to agree to come get us both those days and drive us around.

The Hector Pieterson Museum was interesting. It was neat to learn about the protests that took place and how police shot so many children who were not violently protesting. The town of Soweto was nice to see. It was so interesting to see how people live. The houses looked like rancher style homes, except they’re made of concrete walls. Then you can walk down one block and see shacks (called informal houses or un-established housing). The more interesting part of it was that in front and to the side of the Orlando Stadium where the World Cup Soccer games will take place (the finals will take place in Soccer City, another nearby stadium) there were shack communities built up. We asked him if he thought the government would get rid of them to hide that from the expected 8 million tourists the World Cup games would bring in, and he said he thought they would be kept up. Connie and I think the government should and probably will take the shacks down, but we’re curious where the people will be moved to.

Our cab driver also drove us past Nelson Mandela’s home, where he grew up. There were people crowded around taking pictures in front of it. He stopped to let us take pictures in front of the home.

Anyway, we ended the night with a nice dinner and a quick trip to the supermarket. Then sat in bed and talked for a while.

We’re all set for our Pilanesburg Nature Reserve Safari Tour tomorrow.

 By the way -

Connie felt so bad about not having tipped her shuttle driver enough, she kept saying she wanted to go to the airport to find him so she could tip him. She truly felt horrible about it. But it was still funny to us. She said she was just frazzled by all the cab drivers harassing her and confused by the exchange rate.

I have to admit, those cab drivers at the airport could make you confused easily!

rrsuby25rs says:
If I was Fix and you gals told me that story of a 5R tip on a cab ride I woulda brought the cab to a scretching hault! Sounds like a great day.

One word for tomorrow's Safari trip....PICTURES!!!!!!
Posted on: Feb 01, 2010
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At the Hector Pieterson Museum
At the Hector Pieterson Museum
Squatter camps (which I incorrectl…
Squatter camps (which I incorrect…
Squatter camps near Orlando Stadium
Squatter camps near Orlando Stadium
Orlando Stadium
Orlando Stadium
Connie in front of Nelson Mandela…
Connie in front of Nelson Mandela…
Nelson Mandelas childhood home - …
Nelson Mandela's childhood home -…